What Are Pancreatic Disorders?
The pancreas is a long gland that is surrounded by the stomach, small intestine, liver, spleen and gallbladder. It plays more than one role in the body, including making the insulin to regulate glucose and producing a large number of enzymes needed to digest food and absorb nutrients. When the pancreas does not function properly it can lead to several different disorders, including:
This condition can come on suddenly, and causes inflammation of the pancreas. There are a number of possible causes such as gallstones, trauma, infection, long-term alcohol use, hereditary conditions and more. Symptoms include severe pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever and diarrhea.
Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive illness, meaning it occurs over time. It can be caused by chronic alcohol use, hereditary disorders and cystic fibrosis. Common symptoms are upper abdominal pain, weight loss and diarrhea.
In many cases, this condition is caused by genetic mutations, though it can also be due to intestine abnormalities or hereditary pancreatitis. Symptoms may include chronic pain, malnutrition, diarrhea or diabetes.
When the cells in the pancreas develop mutations in their DNA, they can grow uncontrollably, resulting in pancreatic cancer. Common symptoms are yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), pain in the abdomen and back, dark urine, weight loss and more.
How Are Pancreatic Disorders Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with a pancreatic disorder, or if you have a genetic mutation or hereditary disposition to hereditary pancreatitis, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions regarding your symptoms. If your doctor suspects that your symptoms are related to a pancreatic disease, he or she will recommend some tests or procedures for diagnosis. These may include blood tests, stool tests, CT scans, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopic ultrasound or MRI, among others.
Treatment Options For Pancreatic Disorders
The treatment that is right for you will depend on your diagnosis. However, in most cases of pancreatitis, treatment involves antibiotics, IV fluids, pain medication or surgery. Pancreatic cancer treatment involves surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or targeted therapy, among others. Following your diagnosis, your doctor will speak with you regarding your treatment options and create a plan of action that he or she recommends for the best outcomes.
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